History & Mission

Girl Powered Since 1772

History & Mission - Dawn at Salem Academy

Salem Academy and College is the oldest educational institution for girls and women in the United States. Founded in 1772 (four years before the Declaration of Independence was signed!) its Moravian founders believed that girls and women were entitled to the same education as boys and men.

Ever since, Salem has kept true to its mission while evolving with the times to serve the changing needs of girls and women in our society.

Our Mission, Our Promise

Educating girls since 1772, Salem Academy fosters compassionate and creative leaders, prepared for college and life, who chart their paths with character, curiosity, and courage.

Highlights from History

Single Sisters: In its early years, Salem was led by the unmarried women of the Moravian community, known as the Single Sisters. These forward-thinking women were economically self-sufficient — rare for 18th-century women!

Diversity came early to Salem Academy and College. In the 1780s, Salem accepted its first enslaved African-American student; In 1826, it accepted its first Native American student, Sally Ridge.

College-level courses were added during the 1860s and in 1907, the school’s name was changed to Salem Academy and College

Read the full history of Salem Academy and College; See our historical research, Salem College’s participation in Universities Studying Slavery, and more.